The day is bright and sunny. You saunter out to your beautiful back yard and take a peek at your chickens. You throw out a little seed on the ground and grab a hand full of gorgeous clean brown eggs to make for breakfast that morning. You watch them play and chase bugs around for a few minutes and then head on inside to make breakfast. Ah, the life of a chicken keeper, ain’t it grand? Hmm lets take a little closer look at the reality of what those first few sentences could potentially also turn out to look like.
If you are thinking of keeping chickens please look at all of the aspects of keeping chickens rather then the serene picture that I just painted. Lets break it down.
The weather is not always bright and sunny…..
When you have birds to care for just like any other animal in your charge the weather has no bearing on whether you get to have a day off caring for them. There are days that are rainy, there are days that it is well below freezing, there are days that it may reach “scorching hot” degrees. Your birds will still need you, albeit at different levels. There may be days you have to dress out in rain gear and muck boots, there may be days you are dealing with frozen water and there may also be days that you will need to make sure they are not suffering from heat exhaustion and have adequate shade. Those bright mild sunny days are wonderful but not always a reality.
Some days peeking at your chickens could bring heartbreak…
Everything loves a chicken. Predators are always trying to find a way into your birds so there may possibly be a time that you go out to your coop and find an unwelcomed surprise. There are times that I have discovered the whole flock had been killed, times that I have caught predators in the process and they left behind maimed birds that I had to humanely deal with and there are also times I will go out and find a sick bird or one that has died from an unforeseen reason. Those are the days that peeking at your birds takes an unpleasant turn but they are things you should be aware of if you are thinking of getting any sort of fowl.
Feeding is not just throwing a few seeds on the ground….
While you may enjoy sprinkling some treats out on the ground there is more to it then that. Some poor person had to lug, drag or man handle that 50 lb bag of feed to the food bin. Ask me how I know this? No need to go to a gym when you have animals to care for! I say 50 lb. bag because if you are vigilant and careful with your pennies you will see that is much more economical then that cute little tiny bag you get at the local tractor store. You will need to do research in your area to find the best price and hopefully you will be looking for a nonGMO source of feed and organic as well if you are able to afford it. So there’s a little bit more to it then just sprinkling some seed on the ground. You will also need to consider the water source as well. If you are far from water you will be carrying the water each day down to your birds. This is one of the things I have had to contend with and I am so thankful for the small four-wheeler we have with a place to carry things in the back. I lovingly refer to this as my “work truck” because it is a HUGE help to me carrying water and feed down to the flock.
Your eggs will not always be clean….
Yep that’s right they don’t come into the house from the coop like they do from the store all shiny, clean and probably washed in bleach. They will have poop on them sometimes. It will be up to your preference whether you want to wash them right away or just rinse them before use. That post is for another time! You can minimize the amount of grime on the eggs by regularly cleaning out the nesting box and adding fresh bedding. It also helps to make sure you have adequate space for the amount of birds you have in your coop. Oh by the way, you also have to clean out the coop on a regular basis as well! There are different methods that are used to do this. Some require more work then others but nonetheless it is something that will need to be considered.
Cooking them up for breakfast may not always be an option……
Even though you do all of these extra steps that you may not have considered there may still come a day that you go down to gather the eggs and there aren’t any there to gather. Chickens are not machines they are living breathing life! They will stop laying for various reasons. Some of the factors that I mentioned above not being done could affect egg production. This is so common that I wrote another post just about this subject! Check it out for more info.
But despite it all….
I absolutely LOVE keeping chickens. I enjoy the wonderful fresh eggs they provide for me and my family so loaded with vitamins you can see it in the bright orange yolks. I enjoy watching them interact and I rather enjoy taking care of them. But some people don’t realize there is some work to taking care of a flock of birds and get them and then are unable or unwilling to do the work necessary for them. I can honestly say there WILL be days like the first few sentences of this post and those days make it well worth the work!